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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

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INTRODUCTORY   ESSAY.                                      3
subjects worthy of .future attention. Geographical distribu-
tion, and the effect of climate, soil, and exposure, have been
made the objects of our special study, and will in all cases be
particularly noted. With regard to economic botany, it is
obviously impossible to do more than briefly enumerate, under
their respective species, the various products which have been
used in the a^Js: for detailed accounts of their value, we must
refer our readers to the many excellent works on those sub-
jects, which have been published by Indian botanists.
Our work is intended to facilitate the progress of econo-
mists, by supplying their great desideratum, a critical descrip-
tion of the plants which yield the products they seek. We
have had a considerable experience both in medical and eco-
nomic botany, and we announce boldly our conviction, that,
so far as India is concerned, these departments are at a stand-
still, for want of an accurate scientific guide to the flora of
that country. Hundreds of valuable products are quite un-
known to science, while of most of the others the plants are
known only to the professed botanist. The mass must indeed
always remain so: just as the refinements of the laboratory
and the calculations of the mathematician must ever be mys-
teries to the majority of manufacturers and navigators, whose
operations are based on the sciences ip. question. It is a mis-
take to suppose that it can be otherwise; or that those who
are engaged in forwarding a science so extensive and abstruse
as philosophical botany, can command the time to become so
familiar with the details of the commercial value of vegetable
products, as to be safe referees on these subjects. On the
other hand, it is equally a mistake to suppose that those who
devote themselves to the collection of economic products, can
possess the experience and botanical knowledge necessary t<>
render their identifications of tropical plants trustworthy in,
the eyes of men of science*. It is therefore as a strictly
* For proof of this we hare only to refer to the pages of any book on me-
dical or economic botany; and to the iact, first indicated in these pages, that
the celebrated Bikh Poinonj about-whit'li so much has been written, ia produced